29/11/2008

Anglican Covenant still on track

There have been two flurries around the Covenant recently. One was the notion that the C of E could not sign up to any Covenant with teeth. Although this was widely reported it was a misreading of the comment (see my earlier comment and Martin Reynold's comments on Thinking Anglicans here.)

More recently the Joint Standing Committee of the Primates and Anglican Consultative Council met to discuss the forthcoming ACC meeting in May.

Episcopallife online said,

At its 2009 meeting, the ACC is expected to review a yet-unreleased final draft
of the proposed Anglican covenant, a set of principles intended to bind the
Anglican Communion amid differing viewpoints on human sexuality and biblical
interpretation.

The Rev. Canon Gregory Cameron, deputy secretary general of
the Anglican Communion, addressed the committee on what he expects in the next
version of the covenant. "The first two sections will be relatively unchanged,"
said Jefferts Schori, "but he's expecting some significant changes in the third
section and an almost completely new [appendix]."

The first two sections of
the second version, known as the St. Andrew's Draft, are called "Our Inheritance
of Faith" and "The Life We Share with Others: Anglican Vocation." The third
section, "Our Unity and Common Life," contains a series of affirmations about
how Anglican provinces operate within their own boundaries and commitments about taking actions that might impact the larger communion. The appendix suggests a
procedure for churches that breach the covenant.

Anglican Communion provinces
have until the end of March 2009 to respond to the St. Andrew's Draft. The
Covenant Design Group will next meet in London in April 2009 and is expected to
issue another draft which will be reviewed by the ACC during its May meeting.
The ACC could decide to release that version to the provinces for their adoption.


The idea that changes to section 3 and the appendix are good news for those who dislike the idea of a Covenant with sanctions are premature and almost certainly misplaced. I anticipate that the criticism directed at this crucial section has been taken seriously - and the response has been to refine the procedure and tighten the legalities to make sanctions a stronger part of the Covenant and better disguised.

The comments also means that the timetable the Design Group set itself in the beginning has not wavered. A Covenant will (I predict) be remitted from the ACC to Provinces for ratification. Provinces will be expected to find ways to grant their Primate the right to sign the Covenant in order to avoid lengthy debate in each Provinces' governing body (and also the possibility of amendment).

And those who point out how little support the current draft Covenant, or any such Covenant has, are right. But they should not draw the conclusion that without such support the Covenant is dead. Not until it is nailed into its coffin.

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2 comments:

  1. As the next text emerges then the opposition will form again. The same logic applies about it - toothless and unwanted for the purpose, or with teeth and unacceptable across boundaries.

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  2. John-Julian, OJN30/11/08

    Yes, Adrian, you are succinctly right! It's nowhere now and going nowhere in the future.

    Those who promote the idea of a Covenant are almost inevitably those who are determined to make it punitive -- which it can never be (and still receive anything like broad acceptance). It was a flashy idea, a brave effort to "save" the Communion, which had its moments in the sun, and is now fading (one hopes) into the shade.

    Now that the "removers" have pretty clearly headed off into their various schisms (and those do seem to multiply almost weekly, do they not, using up more and more of the alphabet?), the whole steam behind the Covenant thing is petering out, and there is little point in it any more.

    I suppose there are a few who will keep trying to blow life back into it, but it is by now somnolent and should be given a respectful burial.

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